Tech Note: Leak Detection

Have you ever watched an ice cube in an ice cube tray?  Sure the water turns to ice, but what happens to the water that is in the tray?  It gets bigger.  During the winter, our soils do the same thing, they expand and contract.  This is the reason why pools in the northern climates need to be much beefier than the pools in the southern states.  They need to withstand the freeze and thaw cycles and the movement of the earth.  Along with this movement comes a certain downfall… Leaks.  The winter season shows its ugly face in the spring when pools start to open and we are able to see some of the damage that winter has caused.

Every year, we get calls from customers who state that “my pool is leaking”.  In some instances, this is the case and in some instances it is simply evaporation.  A simple way to tell if a pool leaks is by doing a bucket test.  It is certainly normal for a pool to leak.  Things such as evaporation, splash out, backwashing all cause water to leave the vessel.  In fact, one could say that every single pool leaks.  The trick it to have it not leak more than would be considered “normal”.  Obviously, leaks can come from the pool shell itself or from the piping.  A simple way to give a good indication on this is by doing a “pump on/ pump off test”.  Now I can’t find a YouTube video on this, so if you see a rising star in the YouTube world, it may be me debuting in my first video showing how to do this test.  Simply fill your pool up to normal operating level and place a mark with a piece of tape on your tile line of where your water level is.  Run your pump for 24 hours then return to your mark.  See if the water level has stayed the same or dropped.  Let’s say that it dropped 1/2”.  Now fill your pool back up to normal operating level again and keep your pump off for 24 hours and check the mark.  Let’s say that this time that the pool didn’t lose any water.  When a return line is under pressure, it will tend to lose much more water because this line is under pressure when the pump is on.  When the line is pressurized, the water if forced out of a leak or crack in a pipe.  Therefore, when the pump is on, water (or more water than when static) will leak out of the pipe than when the pump is off.  This test helps us to identify where to look for a leak at, but it is certainly not definitive.
Bi-State has thousand of dollars worth of leak detection equipment, from ground-sensing devices to ultra-sonic listening devices to SCUBA/ dry suits, etc.  Many pool professionals even call upon us for our expertise in this field and of course, we are masters at repairing these issues as well.  From plumbing to plaster, concrete to liners, conduit to cracks – we are able to fix all types of issues.
Happy Swimming!

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